Mayor Addresses Impact of Illegal Drugs on Local Crime
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Alexandria, La. (Oct. 21, 2021) — Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall addressed the role of illegal drugs in local crime and the increasing use of opioids, including fentanyl, during his monthly State of the Community briefing held Wednesday morning at Frank O. Hunter Park.
“Statewide, the total number of synthetic opioid overdose deaths occurring in the first four months of this year is higher than the total number of synthetic overdose deaths occurring in all of 2019,” Hall said. “Locally, since January of this year, the Alexandria Fire Department has responded to 291 overdoses in the City of Alexandria.”
Fire department responders administered a drug to treat overdoses to prevent deaths in most of these cases, yet the trend is concerning. Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine and extremely deadly. Locally, the Alexandria Police Department participates with other local law enforcement agencies as part of the RADE task force. That unit is increasingly finding varying amounts of fentanyl and fentanyl-related compounds, often put in counterfeit pills and other illicit drugs, when they make arrests. While police officers can and do make arrests, that is the limit of what they can do.
“We cannot examine crime in our city without recognizing the significant role drugs play. Solving this challenge will require help from throughout the community,” Hall said. He then introduced Rebecca Craig, executive director of the Central Louisiana Human Services District. The regional agency provides mental health, substance use, and developmental disability services in Central Louisiana including Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Rapides, Vernon, and Winn parishes.
“As the Mayor is targeting violence today in our community, I’d like to say that we believe we have a role in prevention,” Craig said. She added that the correlation between violence and substance abuse is very serious. “Prevention is key. We are in the schools. We have a life skills program in grammar schools and junior high schools where we teach kids things like coping skills. We teach them to make better decisions. We are very active in giving out Narcan to prevent overdose deaths,” Craig said.
She said they also have outreach programs to meet people where they live. “If they are ready for substance abuse treatment, we help send them to substance abuse treatment. If they are not ready, we continue to work with them until they might be ready to engage in those services.”
The district operates a Caring Choices clinic at 5411 Coliseum Blvd. that offers a variety of mental health and substance abuse services and works with local law enforcement officers to provide crisis intervention training. “It basically helps officers better understand mental illness and substance abuse, what it looks like in the community so if they come upon someone who is suffering from an illness or episode they know how to de-escalate the situation,” Craig said.
Craig said the services of the Central Louisiana Human Services District are provided regardless of a person’s ability to pay for service. For more information, check out their website at https://clhsd.org/.
Craig.jpg: Central Louisiana Human Services Director Rebecca Craig speaks during Mayor Jeff Hall’s October State of the Community briefing Wednesday morning at Frank O. Hunter Park. Craig explains the role her agency can play in addressing increased opioid use in Alexandria.
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